Trusted installer

If your computer has Windows Vista, 7 or 8, sooner or later, you’ll be encountering him, too.

Tech doctor (photo credit: MCT)
Tech doctor
(photo credit: MCT)
I ran across a false messiah recently. At first, he gave me hope. But like all true false messiahs, his pretensions, his powers, his very presence proved predictably pernicious and pathological, and he himself was no mensch.
His name is Trusted Installer. More precisely, Microsoft trustedinstaller.exe. If your computer has Windows Vista, 7 or 8, sooner or later, you’ll be encountering him, too.
You have been warned.
Back in the Old Country, I knew nothing of false messiahs. I wrote offline on a sturdy old Hewlett- Packard Vectra that ran Windows 95. I kept a somewhat less antediluvian PC for online affairs.
No problems.
We made aliya with new American laptops. We knew that eventually we would have to transition to Israeli computers. But how frustrating could that be? The omens soon came. My Clalit clinic reception computer offers English for most things, but you can only get a number for blood tests, bedikot dum, in Hebrew. I mentioned this to a nurse. Subsequent discussion confirmed that when we spoke of “Dum Anglo,” we didn’t mean the same thing.
Then there was the time I inadvertently put my Clalit card into my bank’s ATM, and the machine started talking to me in English.
How did it know? And some of the pre-withdrawal questions the ATMs ask. “Do you know where your card has been?” “Are you sure?” “May we charge you an exorbitant fee?” “What color socks are you wearing?” “If sockless, press ‘Cancel’ and access the ‘Test Your Jewish Knowledge’ menu.”
My laptop died. Not wanting to pay chainstore prices, I settled on a little shop that prominently displayed a poster in English, warning against pirated software. I bought a rebuilt PC, took it home, and tried to register.
Microsoft did not think highly of my software, and indeed said some very rude things. But I now had a fine offline writing PC.
Then my wife won a computer from a government program to encourage immigrant writers. I inherited her laptop. Problem was, it kept getting squirrelier.
Could it be something from the Israeli sites we now accessed? Foreign cyberwar? Too many undigested updates? The government? I did four complete re-installations of the old system. The degeneration continued. So I did a final wipe and upgraded to purchased-in-Israel, legitimate Windows 7.
More strangenesses ensued. Nowadays, we assume that there’s something governmental implanted in everything. Still, we may rightly expect that espionage not interfere with communication.
After all, how can they spy on us if they don’t let us communicate? The problems intensified. I scoured the Net.
I found an article in the Journal of Forensic Epistemology, describing the now-defunct but then totally apocryphal PROJECT MASCHGIACH, a joint US-Israeli venture to monitor the emails of American olim. (In order to maintain plausible deniability of the Israeli connection, the US part was called PROJECT KEEP-IT-KOSHER.) According to the project’s former director, Master Colonel Shmuel Ben Shmuel-Shmuel, known by his cyber nom de guerre, Shmu 2.2, it ended when the Israeli segment collapsed. “We did it,” said Shmu 2.2, “because we value our image in the Diaspora and need to know what’s being said about us. We also learned that some of our olim are, frankly, not very nice to their mothers. In several cases, we were able to intervene. Unfortunately, that blew our cover.”
(American assets were subsequently redirected into an interactive update of a popular American board game, now renamed Where’s Snowden?) The article concluded that to erase PROJECT MASCHGIACH/KEEP-IT-KOSHER, just type in “treif,” then hit, “Execute.”
I did. Nothing improved. Then I decided to remove the five old operating systems. But whenever I tried, the notice came on: “You must have permission from Trusted Installer.”
Never heard of him before. Still, hope springs infernal. Trusted Installer would save me. But Trusted Installer, no matter how incessantly invoked or fervently invited, was nowhere to be found.
So I checked out some sites and blogs and learned that Trusted Installer is a program to prevent anyone, even the System Administrator, from accessing certain programs. These include Trusted Installer. There was a way to find him, but it would do no good. Trusted Installer’s purpose was to deny permission, not grant it.
So it was.
Then I discovered that I could move the old systems onto the desktop, and they would no longer cry out for Trusted Installer. Instead, they started demanding permission from System Administrator.
Unfortunately, I could find no way to give myself permission.
Trusted Installer seems to have blocked it.
Finally, I deleted what I could, then moved the rest back to the local disk, where they once again started demanding permission from Trusted Installer for every little thing. Clueless beings, they await him still.
I no longer hope for his coming. I would, however, like to get in touch with Shmu 2.2. Rumor has it that he retired and now runs a little malware start-up down in Kiryat Methuselah. If anyone can help me, he can.
Or so I may choose to believe.
The writer, an American immigrant, is author of the recent Yom Kippur Party Goods (John Hunt/O Books, 2011). He is currently peddling his first novel, Ha’kodem.